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Old 11-16-2017, 10:50 AM
Location: Somerville, MA
8,006 posts, read 16,065,047 times
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For me, "gritty" is all about depth of character. The problem with a lot of newer, "upscale" cities and even newer neighborhoods in old cities (i.e. Boston's Seaport or Assembly Row) is that while they look clean, shiny, and new, they don't have the contrasts, and quirks that make them really interesting (to me, anyway).

Appearance is a part of it. Others have posted images of gritty neighborhoods that capture the tone and atmosphere pretty well. But there's a balance. Run down neighborhoods with boarded up storefronts and abandoned homes look gritty, but they're not great in terms of character. They're vacant and devoid of it. I'd prefer shiny and new to that.

So there's a balance. The look is a big piece, but there also has to be substance. Good gritty neighborhoods have the look, but they also have the businesses and residences to match. "Working class" is one way to describe them, but I prefer "established." I like places with old family run markets that have been around since WWII. The places with dimly lit, outdated bars (complete with no more than 4 drafts and filthy draft lines) that are intimidating to walk into but full of people who just want to have a beer and talk. No pretense or gimmicks. I like the old school diners and pizza joints that haven't changed a bit in 20+ years. I like going places that have seen and weathered change (both good and bad). They tend to have a sort of "cool" that's comforting, even if the appearances of the neighborhood or businesses put you on edge a little bit. They're homey. And if they're not outwardly friendly, they're typically comfortable at least.

There's nothing wrong with clean, trendy, and modern either. At all. But it's rare that "clean, trendy and modern" has the character that the gritty, imperfect neighborhood has. It takes time to establish that.
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Old 11-16-2017, 12:06 PM
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
15,512 posts, read 17,740,343 times
Reputation: 30801
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
When I think of grittiness I think of something like this:

I can sorta understand why some people might find it appealing in a dystopian sorta way but I would imagine it would get old and depressing very quickly. Good setting for a story, sure. Place to live and work each day...no

Interesting that the picture you selected has also been used as part of a 'before and after' contrast. I would say both pictures display grittiness, but one is depressed and the other improved.


I think that is the big difference in how we all regard the definition of the word. For some, like myself, grittiness is not a value judgement, but a universal descriptor. The street in the picture, Washington Street, is gritty in all of its iterations whether it was the dilapidated post-industrial buildings of 1974 or the renovated luxury loft apartments of today; the cracked and potholed asphalt or the grey, rain-slicked cobblestones. It is all gritty by definition. Something can be gritty and depressed, gritty and quaint, gritty and luxurious, etc.

Gritty Winter wonderland


Gritty sunny day


Gritty and pretty


Looking the other direction, Gritty in a Dickensian mode minus the grim desperation of industrialized Victorian England


More of Brooklyn Heights Grit -these actually are converted mews. Doesn't get much grittier than living in a former horse stable.

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